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Third Member of 'Texas 7' Set for Execution Wednesday

Texas' Huntsville Prison, home to the United State's most active execution chamber.
Mark Britain/flickr
Texas' Huntsville Prison, home to the United State's most active execution chamber.

One of the men involved in the biggest prison break in Texas history is set to be put to death today for the murder of 29-year-old Aubrey Hawkins, an Irving police officer, in December 2000.

Update: Newbury was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. Wednesday.

Donald Newbury, scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Huntsville today after 6 p.m., was one of the “Texas 7,” the inmate gang that escaped from a South Texas prison and went on a six-week crime spree 14 years ago.

Credit Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice
Donald Newbury.

The seven, then housed in the Connally Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice south of San Antonio, took prison workers hostage, stole dozens of firearms and escaped, committing a subsequent series of armed robberies. They were in the process of an armed robbery at a sporting goods store when Officer Hawkins tried to stop them. Group members shot the officer 11 times, then fled to Colorado, where they were eventually caught.

Newbury, 52, had a long history of robbery and assault on his record. He was in Connally at the time of the breakout on a 99-year sentence for armed robbery. Records indicate that Newbury had attempted an escape once before from the maximum security wing of Travis County Jail in 1981.

Attorneys' appeals on behalf of Newbury were denied.

He will be the third member of the gang to be executed. Michael Rodriguez was executed in 2008, and George Rivas, known to be the "mastermind" of the crime spree, was executed in 2011. Joseph Garcia, Patrick Murphy and Randy Halprin remain on death row. The seventh of the seven, Larry Harper, committed suicide before law enforcement caught up to him.

Tonight's will be Texas' third execution of the year. The AP reported near the end of 2014 that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice had just enough pentobarbital, the drug used in Texas executions, left for five executions in 2015. In January, officials from the department confirmed with KUT that it's unsure whether they will procure more of the pentobarbital, a drug that's increasingly difficult to obtain, or begin to use "alternative(s)."

The next Texas execution scheduled is that of Lester Bower, Jr., on Feb. 10.

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